Chicago expands meningitis vaccine recommendation

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CHICAGO  -- Ahead of Chicago Pride Fest this weekend, city health officials are urging men who have sex with men to get vaccinated for invasive meningococcal disease.

Chicago Ald. Tom Tunney was vaccinated outside the Howard Brown Health Center on Sheridan Road Friday afternoon, in an effort to raise awareness about a deadly outbreak of the disease.

Invasive meningococcal disease includes blood stream infections and meningitis. There have been 6 confirmed cases in Illinois since June, including one death.  A 7th possible case has not been confirmed, yet.

Most of the cases are African-Americans in Chicago, but health officials say all gay and bisexual men should get the vaccine.

The disease is transmitted through saliva, often by sharing drinks or cigarettes, and kissing. Symptoms including fever, headache, and stiff neck can show up 2-10 days after exposure, but it could take up to two weeks for the vaccine to kick in. That is why health officials are urging men to get vaccinated as quickly as possible.

If you have had the vaccine in the past, you might need a booster shot. Vaccines are available for free or at a low cost at city health clinics and will also be available during Pride events, this weekend.

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